The days of the industry pattern to “shrink and pink” men’s product and then call it women-specific are long gone—and thank the heavens for that. Yes, travel and outdoor gear-makers finally realized femme-targeted products opened a new market. But more importantly, they finally recognized that a woman’s body has certain requirements not shared by the less-than-fairer sex. Here’s a handful of travel- and trail-worthy items that carry forward that essential narrative.
1. Columbia OuterSpaced II Dress, $80; 2. Patagonia Refugio Backpack, $89; 3. Kuhl Krush Pants, $89; 4. Lululemon All Tied Up Tank, $44; 5. Knix Wear 8-in-1 Evolution Bra, $55; 6. Oiselle Aero Jacket, $116; 7. Stio Divide Shirt, $89.
Main photo by Mirko Tobias Schäfer/Flickr CC BY 2.0
Nathan Borchelt is a gear-obsessed travel writer and adventurer whose collection of shoes, backpacks, jackets, bags, and other “essential” detritus has long-outgrown his one-bedroom apartment (and his wife’s patience).
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Columbia OuterSpaced II Dress
Women travelers have praised Columbia Sportswear's dress line for years—so much so that, when a particular model disappears from their product line, they scurry to the overstock/remainders sites in search of one more version. The OuterSpaced Dress should help quell any separation. As with most Columbia dresses, its fit flatters most body types, with a neck line that's modest—but not too modest—and a drape that accentuates the curves you want to highlight. The heathered fabric mixes poly (20% for its performance) and cotton (80% for pure comfort), with hidden hand pockets and an active fit.
Photo courtesy of Columbia
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Patagonia Refugio Backpack
Tailor-made for women, the Refugio comes with all the day-pack essentials: 26 liters of storage broken down into a main compartment, along with a padded laptop sleeve and a lined tablet pocket, a front stash pocket, twin stretchy water bottle slots, breathable mesh at the back panel and shoulder harness, and a whole bunch of front organization. More importantly, the straps have a straighter cut and the pack boasts a tapered fit to accommodate a woman's torso for hours-long comfort. And you can ditch the sternum strap entirely.
Photo courtesy of Patagonia
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Kuhl Krush Pants
Eschew the typically baggy fit of most travel/hiking pants with the Krush, which is designed to fit like a pair of skinny jeans, fitted through the hips, upper thighs, and down through the ankle, but offers copious stretchiness. The higher waist ain't mom-jeans high, and an internal draw chord lends a smart touch of customization. Six pockets—including zippered and envelope-sized ones at the thigh—may help you leave your purse behind.
Photo courtesy of Kuhl
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Lululemon All Tied Up Tank
For hot-weather climates or just for yoga, the All Tied Up Tank offers fit versatility thanks to its tie; wear it loose and long as a secondary layer, or secured for a more streamlined profile. The pima cotton is soft and breathable, with a touch of Lycra for stretch, a high neck for added coverage, and deep arm pits and an open back to improve airflow. The only customer request? More colors please!
Photo courtesy of Lululemon
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Knix Wear 8-in-1 Evolution Bra
Knix Wear successfully graduated from Kickstarter with their 8-in-1 Evolution Bra. It uses a molded, wire-free construction for support without pinching or pulling, with four-way stretch and an Italian-made performance fabric that wicks sweat and odor. And while performance of most models is typically dictated cup sizes, this one is a solid do-it-all solution. It comes in eight sizes, and is designed to cater to your unique body; give it a day or two and the initial snugness should give way to the perfect fit.
Photo courtesy of Knix Wear
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Oiselle Aero Jacket
Pretty much every product in Oiselle's femme-specific athletic line blows lesser designs out of the water. And the Aero offers a prime example as to why. The soft, fitted jacket—made of their proprietary compression fabric—is designs as a running layer, but its svelte fit, pleated detailing, and muted aesthetic makes for an any-time-ya-need-it piece. The bold logo and cool "feather arrow" graphic on the back shoulder are also silver-reflective.
Photo courtesy of Oiselle
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Stio Divide Shirt
Looking for a shirt that doubles as a traditional button-down and an active-ready tech shirt? The Divide delivers. The jersey fabric is soft to the touch, with a flattering slim cut and princess seams. It breathes well while hiking, and comes with tech properties that wicks moisture and fights odors. The quarter-length sleeves also button up just above the elbows.
Photo courtesy of Stio